The time has come to start giving names to heatwaves – like tropical storms and typhoons – as some of these extreme weather events will have historic significance due to the damage, migration, or death they will cause. What would you call this week’s heatwave, and the one after that? Seville is the first city in the world to establish such a practice.
After a heatwave came very early in the year and the temperature reached 43 degrees in mid-June, Seville launched an initiative to name and classify the increasingly frequent heatwaves striking the city in Andalusia in southern Spain.
The proMETEOSevilla program was launched with three categories. The population will receive warnings up to five days before the start of the heatwave, due to the possible harmful effects of weather extremes on human health.
Seville will give names to heatwaves in the same way they name tropical storms or hurricanes in other parts of the world. Heatwaves of the highest, third category, will be named in reverse alphabetical order. The first five already have names – Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega.
Heatwaves of the highest, third category, will be named in reverse alphabetical order.
The core of the program is an algorithm that predicts the arrival of heatwaves and categorizes them based on the potential danger and impact on human health. In this way, preventive measures can be applied to avoid the consequences of extreme heat.
The program predicts the arrival of heatwaves and categorizes them based on the potential danger and impact on human health
Each of the three categories will be linked to specific measures, such as opening municipal pools or sending health workers to check on the elderly and other people at risk.
The program was developed in cooperation with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre (Arsht-Rock) and a network of meteorological, scientific, and academic organizations. It’s supposed to last a year in the pilot phase.
Higher heatwave frequency
Heatwaves now influence the daily life of a large number of citizens, more than any other climatic event or meteorological phenomenon, and negatively affect, if measures are not taken, 75% of the people on the planet, according to proMETEOSevilla, which implements the program in the city.
It is necessary to reach as many people as possible in order to raise awareness of the danger of heatwaves and their possible impact on health, according to the program’s operators.
With extreme heat in Spain, forest fires have also broken out in recent weeks. After this month’s heatwave, which came at the earliest point in 40 years, it is feared that extreme heat and droughts will become more frequent and longer due to climate change.
The frequency of heatwaves in Spain has doubled in recent decades
The pioneering program comes days after Spain went through one of its earliest heatwaves in history. May was the warmest in 58 years. The frequency of heatwaves in Spain has doubled compared to previous decades, according to state meteorological agency Aemet.